Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Vacation, Day 3

Today's subject: Carmel-by-the-Sea. I didn't know anywhere actually did the "-by-the-Sea" suffix, so I'm obscurely pleased that the one I've been to is quite nice.

We spent a couple of hours driving south. Route 1 wasn't nearly as pretty as I expected in the north-of-Monterey stretch -- somehow, I'd gotten the impression that it was supposed to be lovely, when it's really mostly scrub and dunes. OTOH, Route 17 wending through the mountains is beautiful: sort of like a roller coaster with trees for the rails.

After checking into the hotel (another Embassy Suites), and figuring out the all-important Internet connection (Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi: quaint, but I came prepared for it), we headed into Carmel. This turns out to be sort of like Yuppie Heaven: everything is very clean and very expensive, and everyone wears polo shirts.

Our intent for lunch was to find "gussied-up sandwiches", and we succeeded admirably. We wandered into Bernardo's, which is apparently called Lucy's at lunchtime; she had a Turkey Club (this being Yuppie Heaven, the Turkey Club has a thick slice of avacado), while I had a really excellent Patty Melt with caramelized onions. Both came with shoestring fries with rosemary and the occasional dangerous glob of garlic. Everything was excellent, so when the bill arrived and they forgot to list her drink, I pointed it out. (On the "be nice to the worthwhile restaurants" theory.) *That*, in turn, earned us an unasked-for dessert: a sort of hybrid apple pie and warm bread pudding, which was likewise great. We later found many good-looking luncheries in Carmel, but this one was a winner.

We spent several hours wandering around downtown, being completely overwhelmed by the art galleries. There continue to be no tourists to speak of in California, so I would guess there was roughly one person per three galleries in town today. It's fascinating: there are so many showrooms that they have specialized to a ludicrous degree. One place does only Americana-themed art. Another specializes in abstracts, all swirls of luminous color. Another does only those annoying big-eyed blue dogs (the supposedly artistic one, not the one with the clues). Very strange, but it did mean that we could simply walk past most galleries with a quick glance, and focus on the interesting ones.

We finished up with farncy hot chocolate at around 5pm, and they began to roll up the sidewalks. We'd made 8pm dinner reservations, so we headed back to the hotel for a little while and hung out -- the hotel's only about five miles from both Monterey and Carmel, so this was easy.

Dinner was at the Flying Fish Grill. Dad had talked this up as a place he'd tried to go to, but failed to get reservations. It's not bad, and wins on the extras: fine decor (rough-hewn wood, fireplaces, very warm and pleasant) and excellent service. We weren't bowled over by the food, though. We started with a blob of spicy tuna, served with toast points and wasabe: this was decent, but not as flavorful as a really great spicy tuna. I had the halibut with fermented black beans; she had some sort of pacific whitefish. In both cases it was well-prepared, but just didn't have the richness of flavor we both savor. IMO, this was on par with Legal Seafoods, while costing as much as the significantly better McCormick & Schmick's. Not a complete lose, but I have to believe Carmel has better options. (One place we passed, called Christopher's, particularly caught my eye. We might try that some other day.)

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